People say that hot dogs, apple pie, and cold beer are true American staples. But, how do you get these items from their respective spot in the grocery store to the checkout line and eventually your car? You need one of these. A true symbol of America (even if it is technically made from bits from China). Here is the newly redesigned 2014 model. Does it make the cut?
(Full disclosure: Publix wanted me to test these new carts so badly they first hired me basically on the spot at my local store. They then made me deal with last generations' carts for about three months before ordering 25 of these new models and throwing them into the mix. They then also made my boss think I was crazy when I stood outside on my break and started taking artsy photos of the carts on a raised curb using my cellphone.)
Now folks, I need you to seriously think here. When was the last time you used a shopping cart? Yesterday? The day before that? More than likely, it was within a week. This simple box on wheels is one of the greatest inventions ever. And I'd know, I'm surrounded by them for hours on end. It gets lonely in a parking lot just full of them. You start to notice little things like every single rivet or the way the wheels spin freely. You also start to talk to them, but that's being saved for a talk with my psychiatrist.
Honestly, I do not know the model year of these carts. Nor do I know if they even have a make and model. But I do know that they are new to our store exclusively as of now (*at least in the Lakeland Division). They also have redesigned them extensively. A new handle, undercarriage shape, different wheels, and a lighter metal all attribute to this new cart.
People on here joke about how hard it is to give points to a box on wheels. But you do not know the definition of box on wheels until you have dealt with a shopping cart. It has no lights, no rims, no windows, or even exotic curves. It's a clean design, however. And the bright green handle really pops against the stainless metal of the cart. The rounded handle is also new to Publix, and it looks rather nice. But I will get back to that later. The back of the cart is much wider than the front, which gives the cart somewhat of a more unique look compared to its competitors. I'm assuming that this cart makes use of a much more (if not all) aluminum body, which makes it much lighter. Honestly, it feels around 40% lighter than the old models. This is a nice change and makes bringing them inside a lot easier. The customers also like this because even fully loaded (with groceries), it still is a lot lighter than before.
Well there is a lot of cargo capacity. The load floor is flat which is a nice touch. Unfortunately that tampered front end does affect the cargo area somewhat. For instance you cannot even fit a twelve pack of soda length-wise in the front. The older carts could.
These carts feature an area up front for baby. It is actually completely redesigned. There is a whole new folding mechanism involved which prevents the seats from getting stuck. You haven't realized frustration until you've dealt with this. You don't understand the disappointment that insists when the carts don't stack properly because one of these refuses to fold the right way. This new design is simply brilliant. And the green accents carry over here too.
Sadly however there are still some issues. For instance, the new seating area is much smaller than before. It seems like a tight fit for baby now. Even putting someone's new pie or box of donuts becomes scary since they cannot sit flat up there. Also, it is full of hard plastics and metal.
Here is where things get interesting. These carts power output all depends on YOU! That's right; all of these figures coming on for the most part depend on how fast you move! Therefore, acceleration is however fast you feel like moving. This is actually a great feature since everyone from 6 year olds to grandmas to super strong men will be using this cart. No matter what, the speed depends on you.
Now, although these carts are great for hauling, weight is still a serious issue. For instance, the more weight you add, the harder it is to start moving. Throw in some cases of water, 20 lb bags of ice, some nice 18 pack of your favorite beer, and a ton of groceries, and your cart will seriously be affected. Because of this, some points have to come off.
I wish I could award no points here. And honestly, I should because it has no brakes! No exaggeration here, there are none. Now for me, the bagger, this becomes a real pain in the ass. We don't have those fancy electronic cart pushing machines. We do everything old fashioned, by hand, 5 carts at a time. We don't hold them together by anything. It's just how they slide together. And sadly, these new carts don't like the old carts very much. Because of the difference in shape and weight, we need to keep these new carts in the back. Put simply, if you stop, they fly off. There is no stopping them. They do the opposite of braking. Maybe I can award negative points?
For customers, the braking again depends on arm strength. You can pull these carts to a stop somewhat quickly.
There is no suspension. The wheels are bolted directly. Because of this, the ride is super stiff. When you run over a loose peanut on the floor, you feel it. But this really isn't a bad thing either. There is no flex anywhere. It's what causes the fun drifting shenanigans explained later on. Because of that it will get three points.
You thought that your BR-Z or 240SX was drifty. You haven't had fun or experienced driftiness until you've piloted a shopping cart. With the front wheels being able to rotate a full 360 degrees, you can get yourself in some fun situations. The real fun however happens when you don't load the carts properly. When you put the weight to one side for instance, you get a lot of pulling to that side. Nothing is more fun than taking one of these carts and running through the store drifting around every aisle's corner 5 minutes before closing. But this also has a consequence. Turn too quickly and you can get a lot of wheel lift. I've had both wheels on one side lift off the ground a good foot before. This can happen just as easily when the carts empty too.
This is also where I continue my review of the redesigned handle. It is quite good here. The new fully rounded shape feels natural in your hand. You never feel anything sharp; the rounded plastic is just so nice. You are able to get a really solid and firm grip on it as well, so no more losing control.
This is another category where it is difficult to assign points in because it doesn't have one. I will classify this as a one gear transmission however, for the sake of giving points. Because it is one gear, it is quite smooth. You never feel any shifts really happen. Entering reverse is really simple too and never feels rough; all you do is pull instead of push!
Because this cart lacks an engine of any sorts, there really are not many noises from it. These carts are too new to develop the dreaded wheel wobble so they ride quiet. Because of this I will be judging the atmosphere in which the carts are.
Inside the store, there's a lot to hate. The constant beeping of the cash registers. Children screaming bloody murder. Broken glass because someone dropped their pasta sauce. Tons of chit chat with other customers. People yelling into their cellphone. The quite repetitive music over the loudspeaker. Come to think of it, none of this is very pleasant.
But, there is saving grace outside. The parking lot. This is where most carts spend most of their lives. And the carts themselves don't make the good noise; far from it actually. The sound of the wheels against the rough asphalt is a very loud warble, which makes it hard to even have a normal conversation with anyone, including fellow coworkers. However, its everything around these carts that make exciting noises. Everything from a new Maserati Quattroporte to a Porsche 911 Turbo to a straight piped Civic have rolled into the lot, each making their own very unique sound. It is because of this reason that a few points must be given in this category.
It's a shopping cart. As stated before, there is no electricity or anything to power any toys. No sound system. No navigation. No backup sensors (but man that would be amazing if they did. You don't realize how often people crash these carts into shelves). Nothing of those sorts.
However, Publix did splurge on one rather important option; the rubber corner guards. Although seemingly simple, these corner guards do a great job of protecting things from the carts, including your car. Yes, we baggers are very careful. But when you fly through the lot and don't stop at stop signs or don't look when backing out or refuse to use your signals, accidents happen. What many don't realize is that these carts are only being held together with gravity. When we have five or six in a row, they are only slid into each other. There are no bungee cords or the like in use. And with these newer lighter carts, they pop out of the other older carts easily. So constantly when we have to suddenly stop a cart will go flying; sometimes into a tree, other times your precious ride. These corner guards do help by absorbing some of the impact and attempt to save your paint job. But to fully prevent any incidents just drive carefully though the lot!
Man oh man is this a difficult category. From a quick Google search, a cart like this sells for anywhere from $125-200 depending on which company, options, and size of order you choose. For that, you get a very sturdy and well-built grocery hauler. I'm assuming this is a pretty good price considering it would cost about that to get all the supplies and have them custom cut and assembled. I do not know how this compares to competitors' carts however. So I will give an 8 here, because it does seem like a decent deal; especially if you buy in bulk.
Next time you go shopping at your local grocery store, take note of the shopping carts. Just think about how much effort went into designing them and how practical they really are. I believe that they truly are a symbol of America just because they haul all of our American needs. Now who do I contact to get this engraved inside the next Corvette?
Engine: How are you built?
Power: 1 Man power
Transmission: 1 speed automatic; No park or neutral gears
0-60 Time: How fast can your car reach 60? Tow this shopping cart behind you and there's your answer.
Top Speed: How fast can you run?
Drivetrain: Independent four wheel drive
Curb Weight: Approximately 30 pounds
Seating: 3: 1 child (under 36 months) in seat; 1 pushing from behind; 1 child standing on front bar
MPG: How much gas did you use to get to the grocery store?
MSRP: $125 base; Approx. $175 as tested
Sorry for the accidental repost. Mixed up AM and PM on the editior.